Looks like the glove is off. Michael Jackson came out swinging Thursday, issuing a statement blasting the leak of the agreement surrounding his 1994 settlement with the boy who accused him of molesting him the year before. The leaker, Jackson suggested, is violating the law and should be investigated, and he slammed the release of the documents as an attempt to influence the current molestation case against him, in which he again professed his innocence.
Court TV unveiled the documents on Tuesday, showing that Jackson agreed to pay $25 million in the out-of-court settlement, which averted a possible lawsuit and ensured the boy's silence, effectively preventing prosecutors from filing criminal charges against the singer. Both sides were bound by a gag order, and Jackson said in his statement that he's not the one who broke it this week. ''I respect the obligation of confidentiality imposed on all of the parties to the 1993 proceedings. Yet, someone has chosen to violate the confidentiality of those proceedings,'' he said. ''Whoever is now leaking this material is showing as much disrespect for the Santa Maria Court’s ‘gag order’ as they are a determination to attack me.''
Citing the possible impact on his current case, which is due to go to trial in September, Jackson said, ''These kinds of attacks and leaks seek to try the case in the press, rather than to a jury who will hear all of the evidence that will show that I did not, and would not, ever, harm a child.'' Of the 1993 claim, he said, ''I have always maintained my innocence and vehemently denied that these events ever took place. I reluctantly chose to settle the false claims only to end the terrible publicity and to continue with my life and career.'' He concluded by asking his neighbors (who are also his potential jurors) ''to keep an open mind and give me a chance to show that I am completely innocent of these charges. I will not let you down.''